Calls to tighten up security along the Eastbourne coastline have been made after 15 illegal immigrants were caught at Sovereign Harbour.
As security tightens up at Dover, the incident has raised concern about Eastbourne being left ‘open’ to more illegal immigration cases.
Police and border officials were called to Sovereign Harbour, at around midday on Saturday. A group of suspected illegal immigrants from Albania were seen jumping off a boat, and the harbourmaster raised the alarm. All 15 were arrested, alongside a 40-year-old man from Hurstpierpoint, who was arrested on suspicion of intentionally arranging entry into the UK. He was bailed until February 23.
Cllr Gordon Jenkins, Conservative member for the Sovereign ward, said, “We all know the situation in Calais, with this build up of illegal immigrants who want to get into Britain. The government have increased security measures in Dover. It does mean that people are going to be looking for other areas. We have got a lovely long coastline from Kent right through to Sussex. People are looking for other areas like Eastbourne. If they get away with it they will try again and again. A couple of residents I have spoken to over the last year or so have been a bit concerned that we appear to be open.”
He also praised the work of the police, harbourmaster, and everyone who was involved in successful apprehending the group.
Continuing the praise, Lib Dem MP for Eastbourne Stephen Lloyd said, “Thank heaven the Sovereign Harbour authorities contacted the police as quickly as they did and that they also responded so fast. This meant all 15 illegal immigrants and the driver of the boat were apprehended.
“However, this does not take away the reality that the UK’s many thousands of miles of coastline does present a challenge. I will be writing to the responsible minister to ask exactly what the coalition government will be doing to reassure not just Eastbourne residents, but those across the UK.”
The Home Office said seven of the Albanian immigrants will be deported, another seven are in immigration detention, and a 14-year-old is in the care of social services.